Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quantum Contemplations- The Atheist vs. Theist Challenge

The challenge: here is a place for Theists, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics or whatever to discuss their differences and the meaning or non-meaning of it all. The floor is open, but note this:

I welcome passionate discussion and debate in the comments sections of Geotheology. But, if you have a beef with a viewpoint expressed on this site, I ask that you stay focused on the issues at hand: no personal invective, no demonizing or pseudo-psychoanalyzing of those with whom you disagree, etc. This is a site for geo- theological, geo- political discussion and hence mutual learning and/or dialog- it is not a barroom or a playground.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

from bencubed:

There is actually tremendous evidence for an evolutionary, biological basis for morality, meaning that moral virtue does in fact come to mankind naturally.

We aren't born as sinners, and the small number of us who stray do so as a result of nurturing as much as any inherent sin as Christianity teaches.

Scott Starr said...

Before I start to pontificate on this subject I would like to go over some of the "evidence" you are referring to. I don't pretend to know everything. I am familiar with Dawkins' Selfish Gene work which I find very problematic. What are the other - or are there other bodies of work on this that you have in mind as evidence?

Maybe I am not thinking of this right- but I have a hard time imagining that morality can be replicated in a laboratory or a test tube.

Also, for the sake of clarity- what would you define morality as- what are the boundaries of it and what are the absolutes?

I will define my understanding of it when I have a bit more time later this evening.

When does a theorem become actual evidence? That's a real question- not rhetorical.

Anonymous said...

richardaj230

Humans can't live without each other. Unless one is a habitual loner, locking a person up for days at a time in solitary confinement usually drives them to insanity or compromised mental health. This is conclusive proof that humans are social animals and that we need each other to live.

Having established that, there are biological mechanisms and social anthropological studies that have been studied both in the field and laboratory that show that humans have an inherent morality independant of the bible. For instance, humans are naturally bad killers. In WWI soldiers were more likely to kill enemies face-to-face. After it ended they became pacifists. The only reason one or a group of humans can kill large numbers of people is because either the "enemies" are reduced to non-human faceless entities (by the media or any other method of killing that doesn't have you face the person you kill directly such as being a bomber pilot or tank operator) or they are trained in culture to be aggressive (and even then, face-to-face combat is often difficult or a pacifier). Also, small-scale societies are almost all peaceful in nature, encouraging values such as sharing and emphazising peaceful solutions to conflicts for the simple reason that ostracizing or killing a member is significant since everyone knows them. This doesn't happen in the very-recent rise of the idea of nation-states, wherein a person dying or being ostracized has a miniscule important on a country of several million people (hence the acceptance of corporal/and/or incarcerated punishment over rehabilitation).

Biologically speaking, our enlarged frontal lobes are very important in function in social context. This part of your brain inhibits signals from your brainstem (the part which houses basic, primal functions for living) stimulating feeding, sex, etc. It even inhibits the micturition centre in the brainstem (and thats why you don't pee in front of your friends!).

Phineas Gage was a railroad constructor in the US in the 1800s I believe. An accident whereby a pole blasted through his skull left his frontal lobe damaged. As a result, his primal urges surfaced inappropriately (i.e eating voraciously) and he became a social isolate.

I don't mean to be rude, but I think its a mean insult when you say something dumb like morality can be replicated in a test tube. Not all science labs have such apparatus to work with. Psychology labs are probably the closest thing to conducting experiments on human nature and replicating the tendencies of our species, most significantly again, that we are naturally social, live by reciprocity (and in unexplained cases altruism), have an inherent morality without any knowledge of bible, and contrary to what it says, a society of people without it do not degenerate into crime-happy, selfish hobbesian beasts. I hope this long post helps.

Scott Starr said...

I am not sure who you were addressing- when you said, "I don't mean to be rude, but I think its a mean insult when you say something dumb like morality can be replicated in a test tube."

Here is what I said, "...but I have a HARD TIME imagining that morality can be replicated in a laboratory or a test tube."

I would pretty much agree with what you have said here Richard, morality was a feature in human nature long before what is called the Bible was ever written. I agree that it is something that is intilled right into our genetic code- to a certain degree anyway... I qualify that because human beings are also inherently selfish, barbarous and generally flawed. Still, man has what we call a conscience- which cuts against the grain of these primal tendencies and which has a "spiritual" implication or anthropic principle at least (which many would assimilate as evidence for a Creator) behind it that it would take a lot of faith to accept as merely the culmination of an almost endless series of biochemical accidents as suggested in purely evolutionist speculations.

Thanks for the input friend.

Scott Starr said...

This conversation started in a heated debate on YouTube. I invited several people here to continue the "discussion" in a place where there is much more space and much better archiving of comments. Most of those I challenged declined to drop in- one can only guess as to why. I offer free speech without editing as long as its on point and not purely goading and/or abuse. That goes for theists and atheists or agnostics alike. I will leave the flor open with my question to the gentleman who never answered still hanging in the air:

"Also, for the sake of clarity- what would you define morality as- what are the boundaries of it and what are the absolutes?"

Anonymous said...

Just as the "moral gene", there may be a "prayer gene". More than one study has shown that prayer tends to help folks recover from illnesses & cope with stress.
Does a "faith gene" exist? Dean Hamer wrote the book "The God Gene: How faith is hardwired into our genes"

If we accept that these, and the "morality gene" e.g. not peeing in front of friends, do have biological benefits, there is still no way to show that they came about via materialistic means.

Scott Starr said...

Richardaj230,
1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.
2) All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.
3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind.

If you can provide an empirical example of a code or language that occurs naturally, you've toppled my proof. All you need is one.

Perry Marshall raises this point at his site found HERE.

Anonymous said...

oh boy I haven't seen a really nice creationist argument in a long time! (oh, the temptation)

Ok,

DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism


Well, the bases in DNA actually hold no discernable pattern at all.It is a biological code in most respects but not exactly.....no, its not a language because you don't see paragraphs in an essay written with intervals of broken words and gibberesh unlike in DNA. It is definitely a storage mechanism.

2) All codes are created by a conscious mind;

Ok, I have quite a number of problems with this; why would a mind make a code made out of biomolecules which can be easily destroyed by a cell's own proteins? Whats with all the junk DNA? why are genes arbitrarily separated by thousands upon thousands of base pairs? Why could this code potentially recombine during gametogenesis to create zygotes that are destined to have cancer when they grow up? And why is it that parts of this code have to become useless to become useful (pretty paradoxical) like when different combinations of working genes and mutated, useless genes coding for different color pigments produce the different eye colors, skin colors etc.?

there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information.

Insertion mutations are one type that inserts extra coded information. Im not sure how you define coded information though, because as I said many parts of this supposed code are useless. Gene duplication is another type of mutation that adds extra DNA; we have multiple copies of the hemoglobin gene in our DNA to code for fetal hemoglobin and post-natal hemoglobin (what we have in our blood now). There also other copies of it that have been mutated to the point of having no useful function and are therefore pseudogenes but are somehow still sitting around. The fact that we have all kinds of people (color, shape, size etc) depend on parts of this code being useless and parts being useful. We know mutations cause these variation in genes at the very least, so natural processes do add "extra coded information" if you mean different characteristics for humans in these simple, specific cases.


3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind.

If any engineer could create such a twistable, malleable, changeable (and in many cases lethally or neutral for the organism), causes it to waste so much space by having useless parts of it (and I mean the rest of the DNA sequences that are not known or at least not yet to be copies of other useful ones) around etc he'd be fired pretty quickly.

Anonymous said...

oh yea, that last comment was from me (richardaj230). Forgot to identify myself.

Anonymous said...

oh in that last bit when I meant copies of useful ones I meant genes. Geez, one thinks I should make a habit of proofreading

Anonymous said...

richardaj230

for anonymous

Just as the "moral gene", there may be a "prayer gene".

I never said the source of our inherent morality was a gene. In reference to the "prayer gene", Im guessing that humans are curious so they try to find answers to life, especially what happens after death, and, out of the fear of uncertainty of not knowing what happens in the futue or after you die, we have created the tendency to pray.



More than one study has shown that prayer tends to help folks recover from illnesses & cope with stress.

Could you source that information from a clinical journal?

Does a "faith gene" exist? Dean Hamer wrote the book "The God Gene: How faith is hardwired into our genes"

See above about morality and prayer.

If we accept that these, and the "morality gene" e.g. not peeing in front of friends, do have biological benefits,

But they do, all relevant inhibitions promote your social standing in the group or culture in general and prevents dissapproval and ostracization.

there is still no way to show that they came about via materialistic means

I have never really heard of a biological force involving "materialistic means" that would result in complex characteristics of the human species.

Anonymous said...

from bencubed:

One of my favourite YouTube videos on this subject is 'an evolutionary basis for morality' which demonstrates very well and with humour to boot, how mankind and all animals for that matter conduct themselves with a group survival mechanism that is the foundation for what we call morality.
Sharing, cooperating, and acts of reciprocity all have their roots in the necessity of survival for a species.
Without them, a group cannot exist.

Most of these are very obvious.
My take is that most morality is obvious which has historically served to facilitate the articulation and refining of it by religions.
The trouble seems to come when the articulators wish to take credit for its origin and simultaneously set up the rules that failure to recognize the 'writers' is tantamount to disagreement with what the morals are.
Completely false, and a sorry appeal to misplaced moral authority.

D.S. Martin said...

Richardaj230 asked:
"Whats with all the junk DNA?"

Organisms tend to need the "junk DNA" for life. The question is tantamount to seeing all of the "undecipherable gibberish" that Dr. Jim Gates scrawls on a blackboard in one of his MIT classes, and scoffing at the "junk math formulae". How does one know that the stuff on the board is "junk math formulae"? The answer could be, "I can't understand how it makes sense, therefore, it's junk."

We don't understand how the DNA sequences work, therefore, we assume the stuff we can't comprehend is "junk".

I am new to this conversation, Scott brought me into the ideas recently, but, it appears there is no way to bridge the gap between the camps here. If one camp cites a source that supports a particular conclusion, then the other camp asserts, that "it's foolish propaganda".

It seems to me that the ultimate answer to the debate does not lay in great minds, great logic or great goals. But, rather the answer is what exactly you will allow yourself to believe.

One side choses to allow themselves to believe in an intangible absolute good, and that this "good" has created the material we call the cosmos.

The other side choses to allow themselves to believe the industry of science, and that this branch of humanity is incapable of error or deceit, but only with respect to the existence of an engineer for the cosmos.

You may be able guess, to whom, I chose to accept as inerrant, unequivocally.

Anonymous said...

Organisms tend to need the "junk DNA" for life.

You missed the part in my post about pseudogenes. Also, genes coding for proliferic body hair which have long been silenced can be accidentally activated (a simple google search will suffice with an example, believe it or not. Opps, am I invoking faith?)

The question is tantamount to seeing all of the "undecipherable gibberish" that Dr. Jim Gates scrawls on a blackboard in one of his MIT classes, and scoffing at the "junk math formulae". How does one know that the stuff on the board is "junk math formulae"? The answer could be, "I can't understand how it makes sense, therefore, it's junk."

We don't understand how the DNA sequences work, therefore, we assume the stuff we can't comprehend is "junk".

You're completely right, but unfortunately I'm not talking about unknown/unmapped sequences, im talking about sequences that have given negative results on regulatory protein binding or mRNA transcription. Thus, the sequence just sits there in the genome. It is only based on faith alone pretty much that at this point it would have any use.

I am new to this conversation, Scott brought me into the ideas recently, but, it appears there is no way to bridge the gap between the camps here. If one camp cites a source that supports a particular conclusion, then the other camp asserts, that "it's foolish propaganda".

I never said it was foolish propaganda. Scott posted the argument (heck I even complimented it) and then I debated it with the medical human biology I learned.



It seems to me that the ultimate answer to the debate does not lay in great minds, great logic or great goals. But, rather the answer is what exactly you will allow yourself to believe.


Well If you're going to throw out great minds, I guess I should assume Perry Marshall is insignificant. If you're going to throw out logic then you might have to re-explain (without using logic at least, good luck) why im allowing myself to believe what I type. If you're going to throw out goals then why are you debating with me in the first place?

One side choses to allow themselves to believe in an intangible absolute good, and that this "good" has created the material we call the cosmos.

I have nothing against individual faith, you are welcome to believe that. However, once you attempt to translate that into objective truth you've got a gaping hole of proof to fill.

The other side choses to allow themselves to believe the industry of science, and that this branch of humanity is incapable of error or deceit

That's a strawman, Science inherently makes errors and these are eliminated by uncovering of more and more facts which point to the least erroneous conclusions. It is only with careful refinement from an individual pool of sludgy ideas that allows science its amazing ability to continuously self-correct itself in the face of physical unknowns

but only with respect to the existence of an engineer for the cosmos.

Hey, a concious mind has to engineer a code if it previously doesn't exist, no?

You may be able guess, to whom, I chose to accept as inerrant, unequivocally.

If gawd did it is good for you, then im cool.

D.S. Martin said...

Richardaj230 misquote of DS Martin:
”The other side choses to allow themselves to believe the industry of science, and that this branch of humanity is incapable of error or deceit

You edited my quote and then called the newly edited misquote a strawman.

The conclusion of the quote is:
"...is incapable of error or deceit, but only with respect to the existence of an engineer for the cosmos."

So, context here is imperative, as with all quotes.
Clearly, there are many errors and even deceits, which must be acknowledged by the science industry. However, from an atheist perspective, these errors can never be so… great, as to jeopardize the underlying belief of a non-intelligent creative force.
Also, it should be noted that my general statement about the “two camps”, has an unstated contrast of the very nature of who/what the two groups will accept as a ‘witness’ for their beliefs.

Christian theists choose to believe an absolute good, who is, by their dogma, incapable of error, evil, or deceit. This absolute good is distinct from humanity or humanity's ability to correctly interpret what is fact.

However, atheists chose to believe the science industry, which has been factually in error and historically deceitful in several specific events, such as Piltdown man, the Tasaday cavemen, the Archaeoraptor/"Piltdown Chicken", as well as many others.

I am glad that you thought about my comments; however, I am afraid that you've misinterpreted my intent about "great minds, great logic and great goals."

I did not say these should be "thrown out." Neither, did I say that these are "insignificant." Therefore, to characterize my statement with these terms is misleading.
The point that I intended to be understood is that each individual human takes an active role in seeking and accepting the specific information, which he believes.
If our accepted sources turn against our chosen belief; which of the two, will most likely be rejected? Will people give up their beliefs or will they give their sources? Typically, humans will not give up the personal worldview. Instead we will sacrifice that which, heretofore, was a "sacred" source of support for our worldview.

If you accept the above analysis as, generally factual, then you can apply that to my previously posted statement:

It seems to me that the ultimate answer to the debate does not lay in great minds, great logic or great goals. But, rather the answer is what exactly you will allow yourself to believe.

So, the context, again, is critical. And, if Antony Flew were to come out publicly with statements which were a concession of an intelligence who pre-existed the cosmos, I would expect many fellow atheists to reject Flew or equivocate for the 'likelihood of his senility.'

And to the defense of the atheist's position, I could make the same comparison of Albert Einstein, as was witnessed recently.

I don't "throw out" the value of Dr. Einstein's or Dr. Flew's mind and logic. But, I simply make the point that their mind and logic is second to D.S. Martin's free-will, to choose what I will believe.
Again, I my choice is "absolute good" without respect to men or men's flawed interpretation of facts.

Anonymous said...

Richardaj230 misquote of DS Martin:
”The other side choses to allow themselves to believe the industry of science, and that this branch of humanity is incapable of error or deceit”

You edited my quote and then called the newly edited misquote a strawman.

The conclusion of the quote is:
"...is incapable of error or deceit, but only with respect to the existence of an engineer for the cosmos."

So, context here is imperative, as with all quotes.
Clearly, there are many errors and even deceits, which must be acknowledged by the science industry. However, from an atheist perspective, these errors can never be so… great, as to jeopardize the underlying belief of a non-intelligent creative force.


Ok, im really sorry I took this all out of context.Now that you did awknowledge that a concious engineer for the cosmos is excluded by the objective findings of science, how does a belief in something that is absolute good still make any sense? Could you define absolute good for me so I can understand (and not take out of context again) your point?


Also, it should be noted that my general statement about the “two camps”, has an unstated contrast of the very nature of who/what the two groups will accept as a ‘witness’ for their beliefs.

could you elaborate on this contrast? Im very interested in knowing.

Christian theists choose to believe an absolute good, who is, by their dogma, incapable of error, evil, or deceit. This absolute good is distinct from humanity or humanity's ability to correctly interpret what is fact.


I really don't understand, so basically this absolute good is grounded in nothing physical (like a book or a piece of writing etc) and is outside human interpretation of fact, and so im guessing, out of the human realm of logic?

However, atheists chose to believe the science industry, which has been factually in error and historically deceitful in several specific events, such as Piltdown man, the Tasaday cavemen, the Archaeoraptor/"Piltdown Chicken", as well as many others.

Thanks for confirming my earlier point about science's self-correcting nature. In fact, with the piltdown chicken, the same scientist who initially helped identify the fossil noticed the fakery. Anthropologists doing a second analysis of the Tasaday cave found that current, sound knowledge contradicted with what should be found, I.e that the skulls should be unique and indicative of instinct species but were in fact those of nearby native tribesman. Same in piltdown man, where a fluorine-based dating technique that was developed after its discovery proved it was fake. (Although I do find it funny that its finding was clung onto for 40 years due to european ethnocentric moods at the time).

I am glad that you thought about my comments; however, I am afraid that you've misinterpreted my intent about "great minds, great logic and great goals."

I did not say these should be "thrown out." Neither, did I say that these are "insignificant." Therefore, to characterize my statement with these terms is misleading.
The point that I intended to be understood is that each individual human takes an active role in seeking and accepting the specific information, which he believes.
If our accepted sources turn against our chosen belief; which of the two, will most likely be rejected? Will people give up their beliefs or will they give their sources? Typically, humans will not give up the personal worldview. Instead we will sacrifice that which, heretofore, was a "sacred" source of support for our worldview.


Oh yes, that is true, you seem to have a very deep insight into human psychology.However, Science is not based on belief, and if it helps reinforce something unrelated then its being erroneously interpreted. Most of the aspects of my conditional acceptance (not belief, theres a difference) in a tested scientific idea is either reinforced by published studies (like in scientific journals), repeating the study or experiment (like when I'm showing a certain protein binds to DNA) or experiencing the knowledge I learn firsthand, whether it be boiling water at 100 degrees centigrade or watching the automatic pacemaker of a dissected mouse power its heart long after its dead.

If you accept the above analysis as, generally factual, then you can apply that to my previously posted statement:

It seems to me that the ultimate answer to the debate does not lay in great minds, great logic or great goals. But, rather the answer is what exactly you will allow yourself to believe.

I guess as I mentioned earlier, Science doesn't allow belief.

So, the context, again, is critical. And, if Antony Flew were to come out publicly with statements which were a concession of an intelligence who pre-existed the cosmos, I would expect many fellow atheists to reject Flew or equivocate for the 'likelihood of his senility.'

Oh I agree, I hope for those atheists that they look a little deeper into the matter should such a claim arise.


And to the defense of the atheist's position, I could make the same comparison of Albert Einstein, as was witnessed recently.

I don't "throw out" the value of Dr. Einstein's or Dr. Flew's mind and logic. But, I simply make the point that their mind and logic is second to D.S. Martin's free-will, to choose what I will believe.
Again, I my choice is "absolute good" without respect to men or men's flawed interpretation of facts.

Again, your belief is your choice and no-one should influence it.

D.S. Martin said...

Now that you did acknowledge that a conscious engineer for the cosmos is excluded by the objective findings of science;
I have not made the concessions, which you have presumed. Many men and women in science & philosophy, who possess a far superior mind than my own, have quite effectively disputed attempts to exclude the consciousness behind the order of the cosmos. And they did this by using objective findings of science. What you may not have understood in my statement, was the use of the term “science industry”. My point being, that “science” is set apart from the human industry that attempts to manipulate “science” for self-interests. I am not intending to impugn the science industry, I am only stating a fact, that the science industry exists in a realm of human flaws. Also, my statement at the end of the quote, may not have conveyed what I had intended. “However, from an atheist perspective, these errors can never be so… great, as to jeopardize the underlying belief of a non-intelligent creative force.” The issue here, speaks to each atheist’s active choice, which was my underlying premise, to only believe the thing (cosmic order is not derived by an engineering consciousness) that was decided by the individual atheist prior to assuming the erroneous or fraudulent scientific data from the “science industry.” In such cases you may find that atheists change their minds about people such as the previously discussed, Dr. Antony Flew. When he becomes, to some atheists, a shunned pariah or a pathetically senile old man. However, another alternative that is often overlooked, by atheists, is that Dr. Antony Flew may have discovered something valid. These discoveries may have resulted in changing his beliefs with full knowledge & integrity.
How does a belief in something that is absolute good still make any sense?
I could turn that question around and ask: How does choosing a belief in evolutionary cosmic order coming from the random chaos of a primordial singularity, coming from a pre-existing [fill in the blank] (the science industry hasn't proposed any way to address the universe prior to the big bang)?
I can say that I choose to believe in this absolute good, based, not apart from science, but with science conjoined with a spiritual desire for hope and purpose.
Could you define absolute good for me so I can understand (and not take out of context again) your point?
could you elaborate on this contrast [between the individual choice for belief of Christian theists & the individual choice for belief of atheists]? Im very interested in knowing.
Firstly, your interest in knowing this contrast is important. But, once you have this knowledge, what might you be willing to do with it? The answer to this question goes to my underlying premise, because very seldom will the acquisition of knowledge, change one’s predetermined belief system.
But to your specific question about the contrast; the Christian theist’s chosen worldview is not bound to the testimony of flawed scientists and philosophers, aka "the science industry" (see my previous post’s examples of human errors, misinterpretation of data, and deceit). I can tell you of many personal examples, (e.g. Christians), of men and women basing their belief system on flawed foundations, and when those foundations prove to be imperfect, these people are left floundering and often times never find the thing that should have been the undergirding belief, that which I am here proposing.
The atheist’s chosen worldview rests squarely on the "science industry". Yet, when the science industry’s concrete/material supports are chipped away, the atheist will drop the, newly discredited, science “knowledge” and/or the "science industry" prophets, sages, and kings, without stopping to consider that maybe the atheist thesis is wrong.
I really don't understand, so basically this absolute good is grounded in nothing physical (like a book or a piece of writing etc) and is outside human interpretation of fact, and so im guessing, out of the human realm of logic?
You do understand.
Yes, the mind behind the creation of the physical cosmos must be outside of the physical cosmos. If the mind, of which Christian’s believe, could be fully “grounded” in things of the physical universe, such as book or document, then that mind would be material/physical, which is a contradiction. But, you probably have heard these things discussed by other disciples of Jesus.
As to this absolute good, being outside the realm of human logic; I maintain that human logic rests upon it, but cannot fully comprehend it.
Thanks for confirming my earlier point about science's self-correcting nature. In fact, with the piltdown chicken, the same scientist who initially helped identify the fossil noticed the fakery. Anthropologists doing a second analysis of the Tasaday cave found that current, sound knowledge contradicted with what should be found, I.e that the skulls should be unique and indicative of instinct species but were in fact those of nearby native tribesman. Same in piltdown man, where a fluorine-based dating technique that was developed after its discovery proved it was fake. (Although I do find it funny that its finding was clung onto for 40 years due to european ethnocentric moods at the time).
You are welcome. And, yes, I do agree with your point. However, the fact that errors, miscalculations, misinterpretations, deceit and general ignorance are hopefully, eventually, caught and corrected, should not give eternal peace to the men and women who have based their existence on a worldview that makes allowance for the imperfections of human knowledge. I could (but, I won't)cite one example of a specific error in scientific knowledge, which remains, and is generally believed and taught, even though the original proponent for the knowledge, enumerated specific criteria, which science should use to evaluate and to support or abandon the stated theoretical conclusions. The criteria for abandonment, for the scientist’s theoretical conclusions, have been met. Nevertheless, those conclusions remain and are widely taught. Debating the many individual tenets, which scientists propose, is valuable. But, still the underlying worldview will taint the knowledge output from the "science industry".
…However, Science is not based on belief, and if it helps reinforce something unrelated then its being erroneously interpreted. Most of the aspects of my conditional acceptance (not belief, theres a difference) in a tested scientific idea is either reinforced by published studies (like in scientific journals), repeating the study or experiment (like when I'm showing a certain protein binds to DNA) or experiencing the knowledge I learn firsthand, whether it be boiling water at 100 degrees centigrade or watching the automatic pacemaker of a dissected mouse power its heart long after its dead.
I agree with you. Nevertheless, we humans are walking belief systems, “great minds, great logic and great goals” notwithstanding, which, necessarily, places science in the role of “wet-nurse”, to our belief systems. Science being called on to nurse our belief systems is logical, because science provides answers to the questions that human belief systems propound. And yet, this takes us back to my thesis at issue; which is that the Christian theist belief system goes beyond the answers that the “science industry” is equipped to answer. Whether or not the specific science issues at hand are unrelated to any given human belief, is irrelevant so long as humans are individuals and more than simply carbon based calculators.
“…conditional acceptance (not belief, theres a difference)… I guess as I mentioned earlier, Science doesn't allow belief. What is the difference? Can a presumptive belief in a hypothesis have any relation to acceptance of the result following scientific tests? Also, can a presumptive belief affect the nature of the scientific testing? I don’t understand how science prohibits belief; there are no mechanisms in science that can can provide this control.
Thanks for the discussions.
My youtube ID is ccwman21.

Anonymous said...

Now that you did acknowledge that a conscious engineer for the cosmos is excluded by the objective findings of science;
I have not made the concessions, which you have presumed. Many men and women in science & philosophy, who possess a far superior mind than my own, have quite effectively disputed attempts to exclude the consciousness behind the order of the cosmos. And they did this by using objective findings of science. What you may not have understood in my statement, was the use of the term “science industry”. My point being, that “science” is set apart from the human industry that attempts to manipulate “science” for self-interests.

Oh I agree with this, the science industry does support human interests in a sense that the selectivity of what is studied relates to what can be made out of it for profit (i.e Medical research is up there and comfortably funded to find therapeutic applications for diseases that could be used to make money). However, having said that, the objective findings leading to that result are not fake and cannot be or if they are, will be exposed, as patients who pay for this future treatment are essentially replicates of established experiments (and we all know what happens when the results consistently do not conform to published knowledge).

I am not intending to impugn the science industry, I am only stating a fact, that the science industry exists in a realm of human flaws. Also, my statement at the end of the quote, may not have conveyed what I had intended. “However, from an atheist perspective, these errors can never be so… great, as to jeopardize the underlying belief of a non-intelligent creative force.” The issue here, speaks to each atheist’s active choice, which was my underlying premise, to only believe the thing (cosmic order is not derived by an engineering consciousness) that was decided by the individual atheist prior to assuming the erroneous or fraudulent scientific data from the “science industry.” In such cases you may find that atheists change their minds about people such as the previously discussed, Dr. Antony Flew. When he becomes, to some atheists, a shunned pariah or a pathetically senile old man.

I actually have no idea who Dr. Flew is so I read a quick summary of who he was on wikipedia. I actually agree with some of his positions, namely like him I do not accept any of the revealed religions (Islam, christianity) etc especially of the gods grounded in scripture. However, I really don't agree with his support for intelligent design or his insistence that DNA had an engineer; The same mechanisms (namely mutation) that give humans variety are also the exact same cause for defects, why babies never make it past a few days of age or why they never even develop in the womb. Now, I would really have to accept the conclusion that an engineer is possible if he does lie outside of human logic, but since this conclusion does rest on logic, I really don't understand how this arbitrarily defined, language and culture-specific "absolute good" applies to this fact and how the premise that human logic cannot fully comphrehend it come into play. If your reasons for believing in this absolute good include considering science then I don't see how DNA leads one to accept that this absolute good embodies hope and purpose.

However, another alternative that is often overlooked, by atheists, is that Dr. Antony Flew may have discovered something valid. These discoveries may have resulted in changing his beliefs with full knowledge & integrity.
How does a belief in something that is absolute good still make any sense?
I could turn that question around and ask: How does choosing a belief in evolutionary cosmic order coming from the random chaos of a primordial singularity, coming from a pre-existing [fill in the blank] (the science industry hasn't proposed any way to address the universe prior to the big bang)?

I fit the atheist definition of lacking belief (as opposed to someone who insists there is no god/ unknowable universe causer), so in accordance with what caused the universe, im quite comfortable for not knowing and even more so for *trying* (because as you stated earlier about humans being belief systems I do sometimes affirm unjustified superstitions from the culture I was brought up in) to not assume things that are way out of my league and in which no one has seen or studied.


Could you define absolute good for me so I can understand (and not take out of context again) your point?
could you elaborate on this contrast [between the individual choice for belief of Christian theists & the individual choice for belief of atheists]? Im very interested in knowing.
Firstly, your interest in knowing this contrast is important. But, once you have this knowledge, what might you be willing to do with it?

Learn and understand more about my own position as well as others (i.e christian theists). It's only from an effective discussion into unknown territory that I've learned the most as a debater. I grow stale if I just keep going through creationists who have no idea what evolution is, mix up scientific theories etc and then claim with no argument that somehow a physical finding proves god's existence. As for my beliefs, I really don't know, It depends on what I learn.


The answer to this question goes to my underlying premise, because very seldom will the acquisition of knowledge, change one’s predetermined belief system.

I try not to hold a belief system. Again, *try*.

But to your specific question about the contrast; the Christian theist’s chosen worldview is not bound to the testimony of flawed scientists and philosophers, aka "the science industry" (see my previous post’s examples of human errors, misinterpretation of data, and deceit).

But errors and misinterpretation notwithstanding, and in reference to this absolute good, how do you reconcile accepting the sound parts of science coming from the industry if theists belief all scientists are flawed?

I can tell you of many personal examples, (e.g. Christians), of men and women basing their belief system on flawed foundations, and when those foundations prove to be imperfect, these people are left floundering and often times never find the thing that should have been the undergirding belief, that which I am here proposing.
The atheist’s chosen worldview rests squarely on the "science industry". Yet, when the science industry’s concrete/material supports are chipped away, the atheist will drop the, newly discredited, science “knowledge” and/or the "science industry" prophets, sages, and kings, without stopping to consider that maybe the atheist thesis is wrong.

Before I say this, i dont think im stepping in line with the atheist thesis you're suggesting. Science is always changing cause ideas which are accepted may become disfavoured in light of new evidence. I just go with the flow. I'll expand on this with your response to my insistence for conditional acceptance.



Thanks for confirming my earlier point about science's self-correcting nature. In fact, with the piltdown chicken, the same scientist who initially helped identify the fossil noticed the fakery. Anthropologists doing a second analysis of the Tasaday cave found that current, sound knowledge contradicted with what should be found, I.e that the skulls should be unique and indicative of instinct species but were in fact those of nearby native tribesman. Same in piltdown man, where a fluorine-based dating technique that was developed after its discovery proved it was fake. (Although I do find it funny that its finding was clung onto for 40 years due to european ethnocentric moods at the time).
You are welcome. And, yes, I do agree with your point. However, the fact that errors, miscalculations, misinterpretations, deceit and general ignorance are hopefully, eventually, caught and corrected, should not give eternal peace to the men and women who have based their existence on a worldview that makes allowance for the imperfections of human knowledge. I could (but, I won't)cite one example of a specific error in scientific knowledge, which remains, and is generally believed and taught, even though the original proponent for the knowledge, enumerated specific criteria, which science should use to evaluate and to support or abandon the stated theoretical conclusions. The criteria for abandonment, for the scientist’s theoretical conclusions, have been met. Nevertheless, those conclusions remain and are widely taught.

why does evolution float around in my head as a possibility to the example you're talking about?

Debating the many individual tenets, which scientists propose, is valuable. But, still the underlying worldview will taint the knowledge output from the "science industry".

Well, from my understanding of what you mean, that is possible. But repetition of a manipulated experiment or doing something new using the results of the past experiment as a foundation usually exposes the belief-tainted bias of the said conclusion.


…However, Science is not based on belief, and if it helps reinforce something unrelated then its being erroneously interpreted. Most of the aspects of my conditional acceptance (not belief, theres a difference) in a tested scientific idea is either reinforced by published studies (like in scientific journals), repeating the study or experiment (like when I'm showing a certain protein binds to DNA) or experiencing the knowledge I learn firsthand, whether it be boiling water at 100 degrees centigrade or watching the automatic pacemaker of a dissected mouse power its heart long after its dead.
I agree with you. Nevertheless, we humans are walking belief systems, “great minds, great logic and great goals” notwithstanding, which, necessarily, places science in the role of “wet-nurse”, to our belief systems. Science being called on to nurse our belief systems is logical, because science provides answers to the questions that human belief systems propound. And yet, this takes us back to my thesis at issue; which is that the Christian theist belief system goes beyond the answers that the “science industry” is equipped to answer. Whether or not the specific science issues at hand are unrelated to any given human belief, is irrelevant so long as humans are individuals and more than simply carbon based calculators.

Well, we are technically carbon-based calculators more or less except unlike computers which say "yes" or "no" our neuronic network of the amazing cerebral cortex that sits on top of our brainstem like an icing on cake allows us to calculate intricately along the lines of maybe, or yes in situation A but no in situation B, only if A then B, etc etc. This cerebral cortex is also responsible for our physical conciousness and why we recognize ourselfs in the mirrors as "self". It's not unique and chimpanzees can recognize themselves too. I find the notion of individuality kinda funny cause while I do agree that humans have a range of different personalities and tendencies we all for some reason share in the same primal, life-sustaining/propagating needs such as food and water, security etc. And all this individuality, including recognition of self, can be physically taken away as seen by severing of brainstem/cortex connections in surgical cases or by any other form of brain damage that removes some aspect of human intelligence characteristics whether it be inherent morality (which can't be cured by reading the bible, oh no) or memory.

“…conditional acceptance (not belief, theres a difference)… I guess as I mentioned earlier, Science doesn't allow belief. What is the difference? Can a presumptive belief in a hypothesis have any relation to acceptance of the result following scientific tests?

Well, if results don't conform to your hypothesis and one insists on accepting the hypothesis after repeating the results then my buddy you've got yourself a real belief. A presumptive belief is conditional acceptance if one is skeptical of it and only accepts if the results consistently conform to the hypothesis (and even then it remains conditional as future uncovering of more facts can change the interpretation and render the hypothesis false. If this really was passionate, committed belief then we'd be having scientists crying their eyes out after every single experiment they perform :D)


Also, can a presumptive belief affect the nature of the scientific testing?

It definitely can, but any modification has to be noted cause if one purposely manipulates the results to fit with their beliefs to the point that it does not honestly become the conclusion as described per the treatments then one would definitely get into trouble since as noted earlier everythign is either repeated, built upon, or used for application.


I don’t understand how science prohibits belief; there are no mechanisms in science that can can provide this control.


Sorry, I didn't mean belief in a higher intelligence I meant with respect to hypotheses and testing (i.e conditional acceptance.)

Thanks for the discussions.

Hey thank you too, Its sure a nice change from the usual stuff I get on youtube.

My youtube ID is ccwman21.

mine is richardaj230

Scott Starr said...

D'oh!!

I am getting left behind in this conversation. I pretty much am in agreement with the general thesis of D.S. Martin on this. I need to re-read the thread before I insert comments. I had meant to respond to the junk DNA comment by Richard. My first thoughts were,"...but there's still no accounting for the development of the information or information codes within DNA. Secondly, as D.S. has addressed, how do we define "junk" DNA? And lastly, and I'm not certain of how to say this so I am not skewered on my own blade, the law of entropy and so forth pretty much shows that organisms or systems actually degenerate toward dysfunction and disorder rather than mutate towards increasing order and/or efficiency... so wouldn't the presence of "junk" DNA actually be evidence against the theories of evolution as they are being put forth to account for the beginning of life. Mutation breaks down order instead of establishes it. Wouldn't "junk" DNA be evidence for de-evolution rather than evolution? Let me study and consider this a bit more before you hold me to these ideas.

D.S. Martin said...

richardaj230,
I have started my address to your last post, and I hope to get it up tomorrow evening. My family time is a priority tonight.

Scott,
I was starting to think that you may be starting to question whether or not reality really exists...;)

The issue of finding examples of "beneficial" genetic mutations is an obvious requirement for atheists and evolutionary biologists, not to mention the X-men comic book series.

You may want to read some of the published stuff here "www.gate.net/~rwms/EvoMutations.html".

These fellows have produced many really tough 'X-bactirium' strains, in order to show natural selection, which most people will readily acknowledge as fact, myself among them.

Scott Starr said...

My current thoughts on random mutation creating noise instead of order are summed up nicely HERE
in an article on the subject.

D.S. Martin said...

Yes, I agree with Marshall. Evolution, simply, does not harm the theist view. The quote for G.K. Chesterton is appropriate.

"The Christian is quite free to believe that there is a considerable amount of settled order and inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle."

Marshall is simply saying that the evolutionary development of the organism, is ordered by an intelligent agency. It cannot be random.

The entire debate seems to be utterly illogical, if we ignore how the first amino acids sprouted self-propagating DNA strands.

It seems like too many Christians and atheists are yelling across the bar at one another;

"Great Taste...Less Filling!"

Scott Starr said...

Well, that quote from Chesterton is on the money. I can find nothing to add to what you have said thus far David, in fact you put some thoughts in there that I would not have come up with.

I am considering how to answer Richard's question about what precipitates a belief in an absolute good or absolutely good spiritual entity sans something like scripture.

In this I can draw from my spiritual heritage and experience as a Native American, because natives have a pretty advanced understanding of theosophy that is not based in scripture- but in induction, experience and reason. here are some comments I made elsewhere that were based upon that very heritage and understanding:

One comes to the knowledge of God by induction. This works the same way that I can conclude that the words I am responding to are the product of a human effect or mind. Its the same with the computer I am using- I can look at it wholistically and know that it is not the product of the wind and rain randomly stirring elements into a perfectly calibrated mechanism but rather by the effect of a mind.


What is called God is not a he, she or it- but is an accomadative way of adressing the fact that there is something rather than nothing- that there is life, intelligence, order, balance, conscience, morality, direction, purpose, nurture, and cycles of birth , growth, maturity, and fulfillment in the cosmos instead of nothingness or unrestrained meaninglessness, hopelessness, evil and chaos. God IS expressed in all of these things- but remains seperate from the cosmos as in pantheism or as logically required by the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

By inductive and deductive reasoning as well as the known laws of physics- the universe had to have had a first cause outside of itself.

According to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, (AKA the law of entropy) and the law of first cause- the "steady state" or eternally existing matter theory is unsound. Thus the material universe, including all properties such as gravity, etc.- had to have a beginning somewhere in the finite past that is outside itself and beyond all known laws of physics and comprehension- something "supernatural". That's where the case for what we call "God" starts- and its not exactly illogical or unscientific. Theism is actually in keeping with the law of causality, the laws of thermodynamics, the big bang theory which concludes that the universe itself is not eternal but in fact had a beginning... and information theory; whereas the idea that the universe accidentally sprang from nowhere, out of nothing, for no purpose and is going nowhere defies the laws of mathematics and the probabilities. I takes a lot less faith to believe in "God" than to not.

The inevitable conclusion is that the laws of physics, or the principles of biology or neuroscience explain how the universe or life operates but they don't explain how it got here. All explanations require an "eternal" ingredient. The existence of anything at all demands an uncaused cause. So we never escape the question 'where did it all come from.'

A purely physical explanation (i.e. materialism, or an atheistic belief that says that there is no such thing as a metaphysical world) relies on as-of-yet undiscovered principles of physics. It requires faith, if you will, that someday we'll discover a way for matter and energy to come from nothing. I don't have that kind of faith in humanity- especially if we are still supposedly struggling to define what consciousness or information codes are or ascertain if they are really real- struggling to define what reality is.

Now, to address why or how one would reason out that this "God" which we have logically established must exist is absolute in his goodness- we have to go deeper. It is impossible to address the character of "God" without delving into the literal "science of God" known as theology. Theology is defined as the rational and systematic study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truth.
The word "Theology" is a compound of two Greek words:

* theos which literally means "God"

* logos which literally means "speech" or "expression"

* theo-logia which means a "speech or discourse upon the subject of God"

This entire subject of course presupposes the existence of God-based upon the inductive and deductive reasoning as offered above. One reason, sort of paradoxical and self defeating if I may say so, that many atheists, agnostics or anti-theists have the questions, objections or lack of understanding that they do regarding the existence of God is that they have not examined - and in some cases resolutely refuse to study theology. Sadly, and admittedly, many theists and yes Christians are also very illiterate in the centuries worn paths of theology which have largely found answers or at least consensus concerning these questions, objections and/or misunderstandings. Many atheists or agnostics are perfectly content to formulate the questions and objections but are not really so interested in finding the answers- because to even study the subject of theology is to allow for the possibility that there may in fact be a God and that they may be accountable, that they may well be mistaken in their position that there isn't one or because to study theology is simply "unscientific" (as if the charge of unscientific is somehow a dealbreaker- which in turn is tantamount to a religion with scince as its unassailable, fundamentalist god). These thoughts are at the heart of what Mr. Martin was getting at when he wrote about the choices we all make about what we will and won't believe. I am convinced that many atheists or agnostics and especially anti-theists are driven to their positions not based upon science or reason- but based upon their own will, their own pride, the condition of their heart if you will allow such poetic expression- or perhaps upon their own theological illiteracy which is also a personal choice based upon their own lack of desire or interest or their distraction by other matters. Materialism is a mindset. One of the basic concepts in theology is that you cannot talk someone into being a Theist by the employment of intellect, logic or reason... (the world of science falsely restricts itself to these- which is called reductionism or materialism)- the spiritual is discerened by spiritual means... i.e. the higher mind (again poetry) must be willing, must be able to step out of its self imposed boundaries and its insistence on hard, empirical, laboratory type proofs about God which are all based upon the notion and/or presupposition that ALL reality is verifiable by physical means and that ALL reality works in predictable ways as does a machine.
I.E., one cannot comprehend "God" or begin to understand the chracter of "God" until one opens themself to and thus begins a relationship with "God" and then and only then can one "believe" in, comprehend, understand or articulate anything to do with "God". This dynamic or principle simply filters out most "unbelievers" because they are not willing to open themselves to the possibility of God or to open themselves to the spiritual, spiritual reality or spiritual relationships and stick with it even when some things elude their understanding. So, it all comes down to a seeming paradox- "when you believe it- that's when you'll see it or comprehend it"- and to an issue of control. One has to concede the fact that although they have accountablity and have relative control of their own minds and their own actions- ultimately they are in control of nothing big picturewise. Science, at least science that isolates itself from the metaphysical- too often believes it is in control- especially of ideas and language concerning ultimate reality. Nontheists will predictably point out that this sort of logic leads to "projecton"- to believeing things that one wants to be true and projecting or interpeting all data through the lens of what one WANTS to believe. Sure, projection is a snare- but the fact that such a thing is possible and that religious thought has great potential for such a thing- it does not necessarily follow that all "religious" thought and "religious" truth or all theology is merely rationalization or "projection" and nothing more and that ithe "religious' worldview contains nothing valid. In fact, I would submit that such a belief is as arrogant as it is unfounded and absurd.

So, the two "camps" can definately be seen as at an impasse.

All that said- let's examine the basis of why Theists believe in God as an absolute good.

God as an absolute good is articulated in the theological concepts of the very existence of the concept of goodness, the concept of holiness, the sovereignty of God and the concept of freewill. At this point we must also address something known as freewill theodicy.

I will end this post before we get into that and give someone else a chance to comment before the post gets even more excessively long.

D.S. Martin said...

Richardaj230 words are in italics.
DS Martin words are not italicized.

1) In reference to Dr. Antony Flew's conversion from atheism to deism. I really don't agree with his support for intelligent design or his insistence that DNA had an engineer; The same mechanisms (namely mutation) that give humans variety are also the exact same cause for defects, why babies never make it past a few days of age or why they never even develop in the womb.
a) What mutated to form the first strand of DNA?
b) What mutated to form the first protein of the first strand of DNA?
c) What mutated to form the first amino acid of the first protein of the first strand of DNA?
i) I do know that the term “mutation”, as you’ve used here, refers to a living organism’s developmental process. But, you are necessarily implying that a non-life chemical amalgamation mutated into life. What makes your belief, concerning life from chemical amalgams, extraordinary from the ancient Egyptian's belief that Scarab beetles could bring new life from a merely, albeit neatly, rolled pile of dung?

2) Now, I would really have to accept the conclusion that an engineer is possible if he does lie outside of human logic, but since this conclusion does rest on logic, I really don't understand how this arbitrarily defined, language and culture-specific "absolute good" applies to this fact and how the premise that human logic cannot fully comprehend it come into play. If your reasons for believing in this absolute good include considering science then I don't see how DNA leads one to accept that this absolute good embodies hope and purpose.
a) On the contrary, logic demands that the cause of any action lay outside of the action itself. What I am stating is this; human logic is well within the realm of the creative Engineer, however, neither empirical logic nor classical logic may contain the whole of the creative Engineer.
b) The inability of human logic to comprehend the fullness of the Engineer of the Universe, might be akin to a congenitally blind person’s attempts to comprehend the color "chartreuse". Or a congenitally deaf person’s attempts to comprehend Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D major.
c) The philosophical reasons that I have determined the Engineer to be “absolute good”, derive from sociological constants, among other things; some of which, Scott mentioned in his last post.

3) I try not to hold a belief system. Again, *try*.
a) And, I try not to breathe when I use the Porta Pot facility at the lake. I am sorry if this response seems sardonic. But, the issue of “trying not” to hold a belief system, is not helpful in, firstly, recognizing that a belief system underlies personal actions and choices, and secondly, what is the nature of that belief system.
b) The twelve step method of AA might call this a classic “Denial”. Humans have core beliefs. It is a sociological point of fact. Psychologists and sociologists work with this issue as their profession. Psychologists attempt to correct dysfunctional belief systems and sociologists attempt to define cultural factors of belief systems.

4) But errors and misinterpretation notwithstanding, and in reference to this absolute good, how do you reconcile accepting the sound parts of science coming from the industry if theists belief all scientists are flawed?
a) It should be no difficulty for me to think critically and weed out flawed conclusions. This is especially true when the science industry’s conclusions are not only counterintuitive, relative to general human experience, but also defy universally accepted scientific law within the science industry as well as by Christian theists, as Scott just posted above concerning “cause & entropy”. Humans in the science industry being flawed, doesn't make them wrong on all points or even most points. A colloquial phrase from a field superintendent with my company comes to my mind. "Even a blind squirrel can find a nut, now and then." I am just joking. Please forgive me.
b) I might note that one defense, which an atheist made to me concerning Entropy; was that “the Universe does not meet the definition of a ‘closed thermodynamic system’, and therefore, Entropy could not be applied to the Universe.” It was at this point, that the discussion concluded…, for obvious reasons.

5) “I could (but, I won't)cite one example of a specific error in scientific knowledge, which remains, and is generally believed and taught…” why does evolution float around in my head as a possibility to the example you're talking about?
a) Yes, you likely do know the very specific dogma that I am referencing…, because I see that you’re well studied. The reason that it is not worth mentioning though, is that too many people are emotionally invested in a specific brand of evolution. Nevertheless, many atheist evolutionists did recognize the problematic data, and this led to the Gould/Eldredge publication in 1972, of the Punctuated Equilibria hypothesis. As I recall, Dr. Richard Dawkins did not accept the Punctuated Equilibria hypothesis of Gould & Eldredge, but I just looked up Punctuated Equilibria’s wiki and it downplays Dawkins’ criticism.

6) Debating the many individual tenets, which scientists propose, is valuable. But, still the underlying worldview will taint the knowledge output from the "science industry".

Well, from my understanding of what you mean, that is possible. But repetition of a manipulated experiment or doing something new using the results of the past experiment as a foundation usually exposes the belief-tainted bias of the said conclusion.
a) I agree, but only to a point. Some of the science industry issues are more apparent and the immediacy of the danger caused by the errors tends to prompt peer criticism more quickly. But, other issues that are generally obscure and don’t demand quick correction, may smolder persistently without correction. What happens if you add to the mix; legions of companies, think tanks, bureaucrats, administrators, professors, philosophers, text book publishing houses, etc. etc.? The more people invested in the error, the more difficult to correct the error.

D.S. Martin said...

I am sorry, I just noticed that our settings for this blog have everything in italics, so, you can't see the italics until you click on the "Post Comment" link and it takes you to a clean cascading style sheet of the whole dialogue.

D.S. Martin said...

FYI, Microsoft IE7 displays everything on this blog in italics but Firefox and Opera browsers work correctly and the differentiation on my posts is much easier to discern.

Scott Starr said...

I just found an intriguing article concerning "Junk DNA" as it was refferred to by richardaj320, it seems to refute his line of thinking here:

"Whats with all the junk DNA? why are genes arbitrarily separated by thousands upon thousands of base pairs? Why could this code potentially recombine during gametogenesis to create zygotes that are destined to have cancer when they grow up? And why is it that parts of this code have to become useless to become useful (pretty paradoxical) like when different combinations of working genes and mutated, useless genes coding for different color pigments produce the different eye colors, skin colors etc.?

...because as I said many parts of this supposed code are useless...

...If any engineer could create such a twistable, malleable, changeable (and in many cases lethally or neutral for the organism), causes it to waste so much space by having useless parts of it (and I mean the rest of the DNA sequences that are not known or at least not yet to be copies of other useful ones) around etc he'd be fired pretty quickly."

Now, read the article:

Intricate Toiling Found In Nooks of DNA Once Believed to Stand Idle
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 14, 2007; A01

The first concerted effort to understand all the inner workings of the DNA molecule is overturning a host of long-held assumptions about the nature of genes and their role in human health and evolution, scientists reported yesterday.
The new perspective reveals DNA to be not just a string of biological code but a dauntingly complex operating system that processes many more kinds of information than previously appreciated.
The findings, from a project involving hundreds of scientists in 11 countries and detailed in 29 papers being published today, confirm growing suspicions that the stretches of "junk DNA" flanking hardworking genes are not junk at all. But the study goes further, indicating for the first time that the vast majority of the 3 billion "letters" of the human genetic code are busily toiling at an array of previously invisible tasks.
The new work also overturns the conventional notion that genes are discrete packets of information arranged like beads on a thread of DNA. Instead, many genes overlap one another and share stretches of molecular code. As with phone lines that carry many voices at once, that arrangement has prompted the evolution of complex switching, splicing and silencing mechanisms -- mostly located between genes -- to sort out the interwoven messages.
The new picture of the inner workings of DNA probably will require some rethinking in the search for genetic patterns that dispose people to diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, the scientists said, but ultimately the findings are likely to speed the development of ways to prevent and treat a variety of illnesses.
One implication is that many, and perhaps most, genetic diseases come from errors in the DNA between genes rather than within the genes, which have been the focus of molecular medicine.
Complicating the picture, it turns out that genes and the DNA sequences that regulate their activity are often far apart along the six-foot-long strands of DNA intricately packaged inside each cell. How they communicate is still largely a mystery.
Altogether, the new project shows that the simple sequence of DNA letters revealed to great fanfare by the $3 billion Human Genome Project in 2003 was but a skeletal version of the human construction manual. It is the alphabet, but not much more, for a syntactically complicated language of life that scientists are just now beginning to learn.
"There's a lot more going on than we thought," said Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, the part of the National Institutes of Health that financed most of the $42 million project.
"It's like trying to read and understand a very complicated Chinese novel," said Eric Green, the institute's scientific director. "The take-home message is, 'Oh, my gosh, this is really complicated.' "
The findings come from the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements project, nicknamed Encode. While much of the decades-long effort to understand DNA's role in health and disease has been driven by scientists' interest in particular genes, Encode focused on a representative 1 percent of the genome. Using a variety of experimental and computational approaches, the researchers sought to catalogue everything going on there.
The 3 1/2 -year effort was designed as a pilot project to see whether it would be practical to study the entire genome in such depth and to hasten the development of cheaper tools to do so. Encode was so successful, Collins said, that the remaining 99 percent of the genome is expected to be studied the same way for $100 million.
The teams targeted 44 areas along the genome, half of them already of interest and half chosen at random to include gene-dense "urban" areas and expanses of seemingly inactive genetic "desert."
Perhaps most surprising was how much of the human genome is at work at any given time, the scientists said.
Researchers have long known that only about 2 percent of human DNA is involved in making proteins, the molecular workhorses inside cells. That involves a two-step process in which a stretch of DNA -- a gene -- serves as a template to produce a strand of RNA, which is then used as a template to produce a protein.
Recent studies had shown that some snippets of DNA between genes also are transcribed into RNA even though they do not go on to make proteins. Surprisingly, though, the new work shows that most of a cell's DNA gets transcribed, raising questions about what all that RNA is doing.
Some of it may be doing nothing. "It may be like clutter in the attic," Collins said, noting that clutter could be useful when conditions change and evolution needs new material to work with.
But much of it seems to be playing crucial roles: regulating genes, keeping chromosomes properly packaged or helping to control the spectacularly complicated process of cell division, which is key to life and also is at the root of cancer.
"We are increasingly being forced to pay attention to our non-gene DNA sequences," John M. Greally of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York wrote in a commentary in today's issue of the journal Nature, where one of the new reports is being published. The 28 other papers appear in today's issue of Genome Research.
Greally noted that several recent studies have found that people are more likely to have Type 2 diabetes and other diseases if they have small mutations in non-gene parts of their DNA that were thought to be medically irrelevant.
Another aspect of Encode had researchers looking at the equivalent 1 percent of the genomes of more than 20 other mammals, and those results are forcing them to rethink the interplay between genetics and evolution.
The expectation was that many of the most active DNA sequences in humans would be prevalent in other mammals, too, because evolution tends to save and reuse what works best. But more than half were not found in other creatures, which suggests they may not be that important in people, either, said Ewan Birney of the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, England, a coordinator of the Encode effort.
"I think of them as gate-crashers at a party," Birney said. "They appeared by chance over evolutionary time . . . neither to the organism's benefit nor to its hindrance. That is quite an interesting shift in perspective for many biologists."
Although the new view of the genome may at first complicate efforts to identify DNA stretches of prime medical interest, Encode is sure to help in the long run, said Michael Snyder of Yale University, another coordinator.
"Defining the functional elements helps us zoom in to look for differences in sequence that might relate to disease," he said

Scott Starr said...

DNA: The Tiny Code That's Toppling Evolution

As scientists explore a new universe—the universe inside the cell—they are making startling discoveries of information systems more complex than anything ever devised by humanity's best minds. How did they get there, and what does it mean for the theory of evolution?

by Mario Seiglie

Two great achievements occurred in 1953, more than half a century ago.

The first was the successful ascent of Mt. Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Sir Edmund Hillary and his guide, Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit that year, an accomplishment that's still considered the ultimate feat for mountain climbers. Since then, more than a thousand mountaineers have made it to the top, and each year hundreds more attempt it.

Yet the second great achievement of 1953 has had a greater impact on the world. Each year, many thousands join the ranks of those participating in this accomplishment, hoping to ascend to fame and fortune.

It was in 1953 that James Watson and Francis Crick achieved what appeared impossible—discovering the genetic structure deep inside the nucleus of our cells. We call this genetic material DNA, an abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid.

The discovery of the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule opened the floodgates for scientists to examine the code embedded within it. Now, more than half a century after the initial discovery, the DNA code has been deciphered—although many of its elements are still not well understood.

What has been found has profound implications regarding Darwinian evolution, the theory taught in schools all over the world that all living beings have evolved by natural processes through mutation and natural selection.

Amazing revelations about DNA

As scientists began to decode the human DNA molecule, they found something quite unexpected—an exquisite 'language' composed of some 3 billion genetic letters. "One of the most extraordinary discoveries of the twentieth century," says Dr. Stephen Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Wash., "was that DNA actually stores information—the detailed instructions for assembling proteins—in the form of a four-character digital code" (quoted by Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 2004, p. 224).

It is hard to fathom, but the amount of information in human DNA is roughly equivalent to 12 sets of The Encyclopaedia Britannica—an incredible 384 volumes" worth of detailed information that would fill 48 feet of library shelves!

Yet in their actual size—which is only two millionths of a millimeter thick—a teaspoon of DNA, according to molecular biologist Michael Denton, could contain all the information needed to build the proteins for all the species of organisms that have ever lived on the earth, and "there would still be enough room left for all the information in every book ever written" (Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, 1996, p. 334).

Who or what could miniaturize such information and place this enormous number of 'letters' in their proper sequence as a genetic instruction manual? Could evolution have gradually come up with a system like this?

DNA contains a genetic language

Let's first consider some of the characteristics of this genetic 'language.' For it to be rightly called a language, it must contain the following elements: an alphabet or coding system, correct spelling, grammar (a proper arrangement of the words), meaning (semantics) and an intended purpose.

Scientists have found the genetic code has all of these key elements. "The coding regions of DNA," explains Dr. Stephen Meyer, "have exactly the same relevant properties as a computer code or language" (quoted by Strobel, p. 237, emphasis in original).

The only other codes found to be true languages are all of human origin. Although we do find that dogs bark when they perceive danger, bees dance to point other bees to a source and whales emit sounds, to name a few examples of other species" communication, none of these have the composition of a language. They are only considered low-level communication signals.

The only types of communication considered high-level are human languages, artificial languages such as computer and Morse codes and the genetic code. No other communication system has been found to contain the basic characteristics of a language.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, commented that "DNA is like a software program, only much more complex than anything we've ever devised."

Can you imagine something more intricate than the most complex program running on a supercomputer being devised by accident through evolution—no matter how much time, how many mutations and how much natural selection are taken into account?

DNA language not the same as DNA molecule

Recent studies in information theory have come up with some astounding conclusions—namely, that information cannot be considered in the same category as matter and energy. It's true that matter or energy can carry information, but they are not the same as information itself.

For instance, a book such as Homer's Iliad contains information, but is the physical book itself information? No, the materials of the book—the paper, ink and glue contain the contents, but they are only a means of transporting it.

If the information in the book was spoken aloud, written in chalk or electronically reproduced in a computer, the information does not suffer qualitatively from the means of transporting it. "In fact the content of the message," says professor Phillip Johnson, "is independent of the physical makeup of the medium" (Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, 1997, p. 71).

The same principle is found in the genetic code. The DNA molecule carries the genetic language, but the language itself is independent of its carrier. The same genetic information can be written in a book, stored in a compact disk or sent over the Internet, and yet the quality or content of the message has not changed by changing the means of conveying it.

As George Williams puts it: "The gene is a package of information, not an object. The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA molecule is the medium, it's not the message" (quoted by Johnson, p. 70).

Information from an intelligent source

In addition, this type of high-level information has been found to originate only from an intelligent source.

As Lee Strobel explains: "The data at the core of life is not disorganized, it's not simply orderly like salt crystals, but it's complex and specific information that can accomplish a bewildering task—the building of biological machines that far outstrip human technological capabilities" (p. 244).

For instance, the precision of this genetic language is such that the average mistake that is not caught turns out to be one error per 10 billion letters. If a mistake occurs in one of the most significant parts of the code, which is in the genes, it can cause a disease such as sickle-cell anemia. Yet even the best and most intelligent typist in the world couldn't come close to making only one mistake per 10 billion letters—far from it.

So to believe that the genetic code gradually evolved in Darwinian style would break all the known rules of how matter, energy and the laws of nature work. In fact, there has not been found in nature any example of one information system inside the cell gradually evolving into another functional information program.

Michael Behe, a biochemist and professor at Pennsylvania's Lehigh University, explains that genetic information is primarily an instruction manual and gives some examples.

He writes: "Consider a step-by-step list of [genetic] instructions. A mutation is a change in one of the lines of instructions. So instead of saying, "Take a 1/4-inch nut," a mutation might say, "Take a 3/8-inch nut." Or instead of "Place the round peg in the round hole," we might get "Place the round peg in the square hole" . . . What a mutation cannot do is change all the instructions in one step—say, [providing instructions] to build a fax machine instead of a radio" (Darwin's Black Box, 1996, p. 41).

We therefore have in the genetic code an immensely complex instruction manual that has been majestically designed by a more intelligent source than human beings.

Even one of the discoverers of the genetic code, the agnostic and recently deceased Francis Crick, after decades of work on deciphering it, admitted that "an honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going" (Life Itself, 1981, p. 88, emphasis added).

Evolution fails to provide answers

It is good to remember that, in spite of all the efforts of all the scientific laboratories around the world working over many decades, they have not been able to produce so much as a single human hair. How much more difficult is it to produce an entire body consisting of some 100 trillion cells!

Up to now, Darwinian evolutionists could try to counter their detractors with some possible explanations for the complexity of life. But now they have to face the information dilemma: How can meaningful, precise information be created by accident—by mutation and natural selection? None of these contain the mechanism of intelligence, a requirement for creating complex information such as that found in the genetic code.

Darwinian evolution is still taught in most schools as though it were fact. But it is increasingly being found wanting by a growing number of scientists. "As recently as twenty-five years ago," says former atheist Patrick Glynn, "a reasonable person weighing the purely scientific evidence on the issue would likely have come down on the side of skepticism [regarding a Creator]. That is no longer the case." He adds: "Today the concrete data point strongly in the direction of the God hypothesis. It is the simplest and most obvious solution . . ." (God: The Evidence, 1997, pp. 54-55, 53).

Quality of genetic information the same

Evolution tells us that through chance mutations and natural selection, living things evolve. Yet to evolve means to gradually change certain aspects of some living thing until it becomes another type of creature, and this can only be done by changing the genetic information.

So what do we find about the genetic code? The same basic quality of information exists in a humble bacteria or a plant as in a person. A bacterium has a shorter genetic code, but qualitatively it gives instructions as precisely and exquisitely as that of a human being. We find the same prerequisites of a language—alphabet, grammar and semantics—in simple bacteria and algae as in man.

Each cell with genetic information, from bacteria to man, according to molecular biologist Michael Denton, consists of "artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction . . . [and a] capacity not equalled in any of our most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours" (Denton, p. 329).

So how could the genetic information of bacteria gradually evolve into information for another type of being, when only one or a few minor mistakes in the millions of letters in that bacterium's DNA can kill it?

Again, evolutionists are uncharacteristically silent on the subject. They don't even have a working hypothesis about it. Lee Strobel writes: "The six feet of DNA coiled inside every one of our body's one hundred trillion cells contains a four-letter chemical alphabet that spells out precise assembly instructions for all the proteins from which our bodies are made . . . No hypothesis has come close to explaining how information got into biological matter by naturalistic means" (Strobel, p. 282).

Werner Gitt, professor of information systems, puts it succinctly: "The basic flaw of all evolutionary views is the origin of the information in living beings. It has never been shown that a coding system and semantic information could originate by itself [through matter] . . . The information theorems predict that this will never be possible. A purely material origin of life is thus [ruled out]" (Gitt, p. 124).

The clincher

Besides all the evidence we have covered for the intelligent design of DNA information, there is still one amazing fact remaining—the ideal number of genetic letters in the DNA code for storage and translation.

Moreover, the copying mechanism of DNA, to meet maximum effectiveness, requires the number of letters in each word to be an even number. Of all possible mathematical combinations, the ideal number for storage and transcription has been calculated to be four letters.

This is exactly what has been found in the genes of every living thing on earth—a four-letter digital code. As Werner Gitt states: "The coding system used for living beings is optimal from an engineering standpoint. This fact strengthens the argument that it was a case of purposeful design rather that a [lucky] chance" (Gitt, p. 95).

More witnesses

Back in Darwin's day, when his book On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, life appeared much simpler. Viewed through the primitive microscopes of the day, the cell appeared to be but a simple blob of jelly or uncomplicated protoplasm. Now, almost 150 years later, that view has changed dramatically as science has discovered a virtual universe inside the cell.

"It was once expected," writes Professor Behe, "that the basis of life would be exceedingly simple. That expectation has been smashed. Vision, motion, and other biological functions have proven to be no less sophisticated than television cameras and automobiles. Science has made enormous progress in understanding how the chemistry of life works, but the elegance and complexity of biological systems at the molecular level have paralyzed science's attempt to explain their origins" (Behe, p. x).

Dr. Meyer considers the recent discoveries about DNA as the Achilles" heel of evolutionary theory. He observes: "Evolutionists are still trying to apply Darwin's nineteenth-century thinking to a twenty-first century reality, and it's not working ... I think the information revolution taking place in biology is sounding the death knell for Darwinism and chemical evolutionary theories" (quoted by Strobel, p. 243).

Dr. Meyer's conclusion? "I believe that the testimony of science supports theism. While there will always be points of tension or unresolved conflict, the major developments in science in the past five decades have been running in a strongly theistic direction" (ibid., p. 77).

Dean Kenyon, a biology professor who repudiated his earlier book on Darwinian evolution—mostly due to the discoveries of the information found in DNA—states: "This new realm of molecular genetics (is) where we see the most compelling evidence of design on the Earth" (ibid., p. 221).

Just recently, one of the world's most famous atheists, Professor Antony Flew, admitted he couldn't explain how DNA was created and developed through evolution. He now accepts the need for an intelligent source to have been involved in the making of the DNA code.

"What I think the DNA material has done is show that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinary diverse elements together," he said (quoted by Richard Ostling, "Leading Atheist Now Believes in God," Associated Press report, Dec. 9, 2004).

"Fearfully and wonderfully made"

Although written thousands of years ago, King David's words about our marvelous human bodies still ring true. He wrote: "For You formed my inward parts, You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought. . ." (Psalm 139:13-15, emphasis added).

Where does all this leave evolution? Michael Denton, an agnostic scientist, concludes: "Ultimately the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century" (Denton, p. 358).

All of this has enormous implications for our society and culture. Professor Johnson makes this clear when he states: "Every history of the twentieth century lists three thinkers as preeminent in influence: Darwin, Marx and Freud. All three were regarded as 'scientific' (and hence far more reliable than anything 'religious') in their heyday.

"Yet Marx and Freud have fallen, and even their dwindling bands of followers no longer claim that their insights were based on any methodology remotely comparable to that of experimental science. I am convinced that Darwin is next on the block. His fall will be by far the mightiest of the three" (Johnson, p. 113).

Evolution has had its run for almost 150 years in the schools and universities and in the press. But now, with the discovery of what the DNA code is all about, the complexity of the cell, and the fact that information is something vastly different from matter and energy, evolution can no longer dodge the ultimate outcome. The evidence certainly points to a resounding checkmate for evolution! GN

Scott Starr said...

Stephen C. Meyer: Signs of intelligence

An originator of ID makes a case for weighing the theory about how we got here on its scientific merits

03:38 PM CST on Sunday, January 29, 2006

Only days after a district court judge in Dover, Pa., ruled that students there could not learn about the controversial theory of intelligent design, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas announced that he favors allowing Texas students to learn about the theory alongside Darwinian evolution. Mr. Perry's statement made it ever more clear that the debate about what to teach in America's biology classrooms is far from over. But lost in the controversy over the legality of teaching about intelligent design has been any serious discussion of the scientific merit of the theory itself. According to media reports and the judge in Pennsylvania, the theory is just a "faith-based" alternative to evolution, based solely on religion rather than scientific evidence.

But is this accurate? As one of the architects of the theory, I know it's not.

Contrary to media reports, intelligent design is not a religious-based idea, but instead an evidence-based scientific theory about life's origins – one that challenges strictly materialistic views of evolution. According to Darwinian biologists such as Oxford's Richard Dawkins, living systems "give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." But for modern Darwinists, that appearance of design is entirely illusory. Why? Because the undirected processes of natural selection acting on random mutations can produce the intricate structures found in living organisms.

In contrast, the theory of intelligent design holds that there are telltale features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by a designing intelligence. The theory does not challenge the idea of evolution defined as change over time, or even common ancestry, but it does dispute Darwin's idea that the cause of biological change is wholly blind and undirected.

What telltale signs of intelligence do we see?

Over the last 25 years, biologists have discovered an exquisite world of nanotechnology within living cells – complex circuits, sliding clamps, energy-generating turbines and miniature machines. For example, bacterial cells are propelled by tiny rotary engines called flagellar motors that rotate at speeds up to 100,000 rpm. These engines look as if they were designed by the Mazda corporation, with many distinct mechanical parts (made of proteins) including rotors, stators, O-rings, bushings, U-joints and drive shafts.

Biochemist Michael Behe points out that the flagellar motor depends on the coordinated function of 30 protein parts. Remove one of these necessary proteins and the rotary motor simply doesn't work. The motor is, in Dr. Behe's terminology, "irreducibly complex."

This creates a problem for the Darwinian mechanism. Natural selection preserves or "selects" functional advantages. If a random mutation helps an organism survive, it can be preserved and passed on to the next generation. Yet the flagellar motor does not function unless all of its 30 parts are present. Thus, natural selection can "select" or preserve the motor once it has arisen as a functioning whole, but it can't produce the motor in a step-by-step Darwinian fashion.

Natural selection purportedly builds complex systems from simpler structures by preserving a series of intermediate structures, each of which must perform some function. In the case of the flagellar motor, most of the critical intermediate stages – like the 29- or 28-part version of the flagellar motor – perform no function for natural selection to preserve.

This leaves the origin of the flagellar motor, and many complex cellular machines, unexplained by the mechanism – natural selection – that Darwin specifically proposed to replace the design hypothesis.

Is there a better explanation? Based upon our uniform experience, we know of only one type of cause that produces irreducibly complex systems – namely, intelligence. Indeed, whenever we encounter such complex systems – whether integrated circuits or internal combustion engines – and we know how they arose, invariably a designing intelligence played a role.

Consider an even more fundamental argument for design. In 1953, when James Watson and Francis Crick elucidated the structure of the DNA molecule, they made a startling discovery. DNA's structure allows it to store information in the form of a four-character digital code. Strings of precisely sequenced chemicals called nucleotide bases store and transmit the assembly instructions – the information – for building the crucial protein molecules and machines the cell needs to survive.

Mr. Crick later developed this idea with his famous "sequence hypothesis," according to which the chemical constituents in DNA function like letters in a written language or symbols in a computer code. As Bill Gates has since noted, "DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we've ever created."

Clearly, the informational features of the cell at least appear designed. And to date, no theory of undirected chemical evolution has explained the origin of the digital information needed to build the first living cell. Why? There is simply too much information in the cell to be explained by chance alone. And the information in DNA has also been shown to defy explanation by the laws and forces of chemistry. Saying otherwise would be like saying that a newspaper headline might arise as the result of the chemical attraction between ink and paper. Clearly "something else" is at work.

DNA functions like a software program. We know from experience that software comes from programmers. We know generally that information – whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book or encoded in radio signals – always arises from an intelligent source. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler observed, "Information habitually arises from conscious activity." So the discovery of information in the DNA molecule provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the origin of DNA, even if we weren't there to observe the system coming into existence.

Thus, contrary to media reports, the theory of intelligent design is not based on ignorance or religion, but instead on recent scientific discoveries and on our uniform experience of cause and effect, the basis of all scientific reasoning.

In short, intelligent design, unlike creationism, is not based on the Bible. Design is an inference from biological data, not a deduction from religious authority.

Even so, ID may provide support for theistic belief. But that is not grounds for dismissing it. Those who say otherwise confuse the evidence for a theory with its possible implications. Many scientists initially rejected the Big Bang theory because it pointed to the need for a transcendent cause of matter, space and time. But science eventually accepted the theory despite such potentially unsettling implications because the evidence strongly supported it.

Today, a similar metaphysical prejudice confronts intelligent design. Nevertheless, this new theory must also be evaluated on the basis of the evidence, not philosophical preferences or concerns about its possible religious implications.

Since intelligent design is a new theory, I oppose requiring students to learn about it with curriculum mandates. Nevertheless, as Mr. Perry has affirmed, teachers should be free (on a voluntary basis) to tell their students about new theories, provided these theories are based (as intelligent design is) on scientific evidence.

Stephen C. Meyer is the editor of the recently released book "Darwinism, Design and Public Education." He earned a Philosophy of Science doctorate from Cambridge University, where he studied as a Rotary Scholar representing Dallas. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute (www.discovery.org) in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

Richardaj230:

Well, it looks like from my really long absence there's been quite a few really interesting stuff posted here. Im not sure if I can get through all of it but bare with me.

First for scot, your article about DNA complexity:

I did in fact read the paper about the ENCODE project from Genome Research (2007) back in February. Let me summarize again the findings from the top of my head:

- a 1% analysis of the genome shows that 98% of it is transcribed
- genes overlap in coding sequence
- non-coding sequences can be transcribed as RNAi interference for transcriptional silencing
- very important sequences (in which mutations cause lethality) are most shared throughout the animal kingdom and with humans.

Ok,

Again, when I refered to junk DNA I was not talking about coding sequences, either of one gene or overlap of multiple genes nor non-coding sequences that served for gene regulation. I was talking about pseudogenes (genes that ARE transcribed AND translated but produce a protein that is NOT workable (i.e a truncated protein)). I expanded on this and referred to the workability and non-workability of genes to create the different phenotypes (and thus "information") being all human shapes and sizes, which has nothing to do with the objectives of this article. Finally, it also does not answer my question about why genes and/or their regulatory sequences are seperated by many base pairs, only that it confirms that fact. Finally, it's purpose is to map the genome, which is why it would also not answer my question about faulty recombination or peri/paracentric inversion of paired chromosomes during gametogenesis of eggs and sperm that could lead to non-surviving or deformed offspring (one example being Down Syndrome).

I really don't feel like going on. The stuff written here is really interesting and I'd really like to answer the question about the possibilities of the arisal of self-replication molecules but im getting lazy. I really like your posts; they're all very intriguing (owing to my ignorance of theology) and have stimulated my curiosity in the subject. Would you guys recommend a couple of theology books for beginners/people who aren't versed in the subject? Thanks!

I've also reflected on my atheism a bit and my general feelings are quite contrary to the extremes you describe (including the belief that nothing created everything supposedly leads to a notion of chaos and evil etc). I think the reason why I take atheism is because it leads easily for me to humanism; I've always thought we humans are animals like any other but our greatest difference is that we have the ability to overcome our animalistic tendancies (although I would argue against that characteristic giving us some sort of special status or free will as our choices are still very very heavily influenced by our nature) However, from this control, we have the potential to know who we are as a species and by becoming aware of it we can somehow improve ourselves socially and in an economically sustainable way (unless of course necessity, the mother of all invention, kicks in and forces us to solve such problems). This is usually why I'm very biased towards science and heavily against religion or even creationism and intelligent design. Theism is totally new to me and it makes alot of sense compared to everything else I mentioned but I really can't quite get a firm grasp on it.

Thanks for the debate guys!

D.S. Martin said...

Hey, richardaj230, its good to hear from you again.

I was afraid something dreadful may have happened to you..., like you becoming a fundamentalist.
My sense of humor probably doesn't work well here, sorry.

I am sure Scott will have a lot of good books on theology to recommend, but I want to get in my level 101 theology recommendations before he loads the field.

I presume that your time is limited, but you enjoy reading. Therefore, I will give you two titles that should not take too much time, but, will prepare you for deeper reading when you get evermore intrigued.

Book 1: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Book 2: Epic: The Story God Is Telling by John Eldredge (Scott has probably not read this book, but, its the boiled down essence of my theology, i.e. not complete but it will give you the flavor of my theology.) It is a tiny little book and can be bought for less that $2.00 US. If you like it you may want to pick up the full series by Eldredge (Sacred Romance..., Journey of Desire..., Wild at Heart..., and Waking the Dead...).

Scott Starr said...

Thanks to you to Richard. I have been fairly active 'discussing' these topics with others recently on Youtube and have met with quite a lot of hostility. It is frustrating at times- but I do my best to not respond in kind. I too am limited at the moment for free time- but I will answer one of your questions right off.

I bought a new book just recently that you may be interested in at more than one level- and that is also very much on topic specifically with what we are talking about here with DNA. I think you'll find it quite intriguing as a student of neuro biology. Its "The Language of God" by Francis Collins who is the head of the human genome project- a well respected scientist- former atheist and now a firm believer in God. He details the progression of that transformation in his thinking and comments quite a lot about the needless disconnect between science and religion. In fact- I will send you the book if you like- free od charge. Oddly enough Collins also refers to the C.S. Lewis book "Mere Christianity" and others by him- quite a lot. I have that book having recently read it- and will send you that one if you like. You can hit my e-mail by going into my blogger profile connected to this page. Just ask.

I will comment further about your thoughts as time allows.
Take care fellows.

P.S. here is a description of Collins' book.


Does science necessarily undermine faith in God? Or could it actually support faith? Beyond the flashpoint debates over the teaching of evolution, or stem-cell research, most of us struggle with contradictions concerning life's ultimate question. We know that accidents happen, but we believe we are on earth for a reason. Until now, most scientists have argued that science and faith occupy distinct arenas. Francis Collins, a former atheist as a science student who converted to faith as he became a doctor, is about to change that.

Collins's faith in God has been confirmed and enhanced by the revolutionary discoveries in biology that he has helped to oversee. He has absorbed the arguments for atheism of many scientists and pundits, and he can refute them. Darwinian evolution occurs, yet, as he explains, it cannot fully explain human nature -- evolution can and must be directed by God. He offers an inspiring tour of the human genome to show the miraculous nature of God's instruction book. Sure to be compared with C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, this is a stunning document, whether you are a believer, a seeker, or an atheist.

Scott Starr said...

p.s., here is what appears on the back of "The Language of God";

Dr. Francis Collins, (former) head of the Human Genome Project. is one of the world's leading scientists. he works at the cutting edge of the study of DNA, the code of life. Yet he is also a man of unshakable faith in God and scripture. Dr. Collins believes a faith in God and faith in science can co-exist within a person and be harmonious. In "The Language of God" he makes his case for God and for science. He has heard every argument against fiath from scientists, and can refute them. He has also heard the needless rejection of scientific truths by some people of faith, and he can counter that too. he explains his own journey from atheism to faith, and then takes readers for a stunning tour of modern science to show that physics, chemistry, and biology can all fit together with belief in God and the bible. The Language of God is essential reading for anyone who wonders about the deepest questions of faith: Why are we here? How did we get here? What does life mean?

D.S. Martin said...

This story just came out Friday 9-05-08 and it goes directly to how errors in modern science can go undetected or unreported for years. This is an error by Steven Hawking, and it was only acknowledged when a team of High School students (3 Girls and 2 Boys) picked it up and reported their findings.

http://www.prlog.org/10113653-city-of-bexley-to-honor-physics-students-for-catching-stephen-hawking-error.html

However, the error need not have languished for years, because the student's teacher caught the error in 2003 and put his findings before notable physicists, who only acknowledged Steven Hawking's mistake when it was explicitly pointed out.

Look at this quote from the press release; "...older physicists are locked in their old patterns of analysis and aren't mentally flexible enough to catch the error..."

This is my point about how people make conscious choices about what we will allow ourselves to believe.

So, even in purely academic science fields, erroneous data becomes irrelevant to belief/faith, because men and women choose to have belief in people and dogma, without regard to evidence. This fact holds true until we are forced to jettison our religious and science faiths; piecemeal as they slowly unravel under the scrutiny of High school and Junior High girls and boys.